Album Review – 50 Sticks of Dynamite

Love Dream Truth Love
By Pam Baumgardner

Love Dream Truth Love

Love Dream Truth Love

One of the coolest things about Ventura’s music scene is that you really get to know the bands and the more you go out to support their shows, the more you get to know their original songs, so it’s always a treat when one of our local favorites comes out with a CD to enjoy on your own time.

I’m a huge 50 Sticks fan.  But here’s the funny thing, there are a handful of instruments I can normally do without, such as the accordion or the bagpipe, and I use to add the banjo in there; I use to equate the banjo with the old school TV show, “Hee Haw”, but then I had seen a number of performances by Steve Martin which just floored me.  So I’ve developed a respect for banjo playing over the years, and with a more open mind, I was primed to fully embrace the banjo when I first saw Ian playing it during an early 50 Sticks show back at J’s (now Peirano’s) in early 2011.

The early days!

The early days!

This ain’t no bluegrass band, and it ain’t no country jam band.  This is straight-forward rock and roll.  The band describes their sound as banjo driven roots rock & blues.  Regardless, it’s the kind of music that inspires you to get off your ass and dance to their infectious tunes.

Ian McFayden

Ian McFayden

50 Sticks released their second album this year called, Love Dream Truth Love.  I’m completely jazzed to include in my private collection of local music songs like “Far Away,”  “For You,” and the title track “Love Dream.

“Far Away” reminds me of a classic movie or an old relationship which you can count on for getting much needed comfort.  It just feels right;  I love the line, “Yes I’m gonna find you baby and make your untamed heart my own” in the song, “For You.”  The tune seriously drives me to dance which is always a fun thing when you’re seat belted behind the wheel driving down the 101; The title track, “Love Dream Truth Love” is the quintessential rock anthem; and I love the harp on “What’s Next?”

The band is comprised of local musicians you’ve seen over the years in various
projects.  It’s extremely cool when you bring four guys together and it just clicks.

50 Sticks of Dynamite
Banjo: Ian McFadyen
Guitar and harmonica: Whitey Wingland
Bass: Michael Dominguez
Drums: Chris Jensen

And though I still prefer to see the boys play their tunes live, the CD will keep be satisfied until the next we meet.

50 Sticks of Dynamite

Zoey’s: The Heart of Local Music No Longer Beats

By Pam Baumgardner

I wrote an article recently titled, “Venues vs Musicians?” where I point out the two should work hand in hand to empower each other, but I also encourage music fans to loosen their purse strings and support the venues and events who pay their musicians. I suggested buying dinner there; paying the cover charge; getting a late night snack, or buy a round of drinks (soda counts!). This is how venues stay in business.  It’s not rocket science!  Yet, it still came as a shock when Zoey’s closed their doors this week to a lot of people.  Some of us had heard rumors for some time hoping for the best. But alas, it was not to be.

Zoeys-frontSteve and Polly Hoganson really gave it a good run and provided Ventura with top notch national touring acts while giving locals a place to shine and try out new projects.

For a little understanding on what happened, Polly gave me some background on how they had been running their business.  When they started, they had their entire family involved, “Our kids Adam, Marie and Andrew (our chef) were all in charge of certain aspects of the business.  Their involvement was so important to keeping the business humming.  Over the years life events took over and slowly the kids left to follow other endeavors, with our blessing.  We tried to replace them but we never truly recovered from that loss.”

But a major key element is that Zoey’s was two entities in one.  A restaurant and a music venue. Polly said, “We tried to be a foodie destination up until a year ago when our son left to become a chef at Ojai Valley Inn.  He was the heart of our kitchen and a very gifted chef.

After Steve and Polly’s son left they scaled back their menu and focused on the music.  Polly explained, “Many fans would come for the music, pay the cover but not order any food or drink.  Since most of the door went to the artist there were some nights when the band would walk away with more money than the venue.  Too many of these nights takes a toll on  the bottom line.  We never did establish any other identity.  We were just a venue with a great listening room and eclectic, unique original music.  Not a pick up bar, not a DJ dance spot, not a food and wine destination.  Just amazing musical performances.”

And that was part and parcel to Zoey’s downfall.

It quickly became quite a struggle keeping Zoey’s open. Polly confessed, “We not only poured our heart and soul but all our personal resources into Zoey’s until we had no more.  We had help from family and friends and will be grateful to them for giving us another year or two of life but with so many other choices downtown our limited audience was not able to sustain us.”

Adding insult to injury, the stress and everyday grind started to take its toll on Polly’s health. Taking care of these personal issues rightfully is now top priority.

In a closing statement from Steve and Polly, they give their thanks and wishes for Ventura:

“We thank our entire staff who hung in there during the good and bad times.  Soundman extraordinaire Jeremy along with Aly, Kenny, Adam.  Our front of house – Mel, Amy, Bernie, Titus, Maya & Cass. Back of house – Marta & Chris. Special thanks to Sam Bolle, Tony and Mike Ferrari, son in law Harry and son Andrew for helping us on the last day.

We love Ventura and want all our friends and music fans to know it’s been such an fantastic experience.  We will always cherish and remember our time at Zoey’s for years to come. All in all we are proud of what Zoey’s was and what our legacy is –  Bringing new and established artists to the forefront and giving them a place to be who they truly are.”

Again, borrowing from my previous article: “So in the end, you’ll ask yourself, did you help?  Did you take some responsibility in making this town a great music community?”

Ventura’s music scene really is something special.  But it needs to be nourished and supported, before it’s too late for all.

Do not let this lesson be for nought.

Chi McClean, Matt Zeltzer and Dan Grimm

Ventura Rocks is new Music Scene Writer for the Ventura Breeze

We’re the new columnist covering Ventura’s music scene in the Breeze!

Look for Ventura Rocks on newsstands and online for Ventura’s hometown newspaper.  In our first column we talk about Shawn Jones, Adam Clark, 8Stops7 at Billy O’s, and Blues at the Beach.

It’s a great way to further our endeavors to help spread the word on Ventura’s music scene.

Send story ideas to Pam Baumgardner at

Artists Photos

I’ve been humbled yet again by the people in this town.

We work hard, but we’re seeing results and Ventura really does Rock more and more every day.

A lot of effort is put into Ventura Rocks. We have a website we update every day. We generate a lot of two-way communication via Facebook hoping to get people out to support the shows. We also work on projects like Ventura Music Week attending meetings several times a week and meeting with the venues and artists to make sure they are included. There are the emails and messages coming in to “tweek” or fix a listing on our site, or to add an Artist, or to ask my thoughts about a certain artist and whether they’re a fit for a certain show. I love it.

I also work three paying jobs, I’ve been going to school four nights a week working on a degree, plus there are the basketball playoffs on top of having a teenage daughter I actually enjoy spending time with.

But more than that, I enjoy the fruits of our labor and I go out and support our music scene. I attempt to do this at least two-three times a week. And when I do, I make it a point to “check in” on Facebook with a photo of the band in hopes of getting others out to do the same.

The point is, I’m really freakin’ busy!!! So I was sidelined recently when a local musician, someone I admired, sent me an email requesting we get permission from Artists before posting their photos anywhere on the internet.

I’m positive this was a direct hit at me personally because I can not imagine how a local artist in a town the size of Ventura would be opposed to receiving free publicity.

I’ll be honest. It hurt. And perhaps I should have suppressed my feelings but I did two things.

1. I responded with a nice lengthy explanation and then I promised I would never take their photo again without their permission.

2. I went on Facebook and posted the following message along with a photo of my dog Sammy expressing how I was feeling:

“It’s been requested from a local musician that we get permission from Artists before posting their photos anywhere on the internet.
It hadn’t occurred to us that some musicians/artists would prefer not to have free publicity and help promoting them.
If we have posted your image in the past and you were not OKAY with it, please let us know and we will immediately take it down.
Seriously, we’re just trying to help”

The response was overwhelming. I will never doubt again that we’re making a difference in this town. And the support and thanks for what we do was just inspiring. I honestly cried more over these comments than how disappointing that email was. And no, not one Artist has sent me a Private Message to request we not post their photos. I did get one Private Message, but no, I’m not going to divulge who it was who made the request!

But I do want to be clear that we will endeavor to ensure Artists are fine with us posting their photos. I just don’t want them to feel beholden to us, or think we’re just looking for “thanks.”

And just so you know, I try to be careful with the photos I post ensuring the Artist(s) look good, avoiding glowing eyes, or unflattering expressions. If when I scroll the photos and I don’t see a good one, I’ll go back up and take some more until I do. If the lighting sucks so much that I can’t get the shot, I’ll just not post anything.

So if for any reason (you don’t have to give me an explanation if you don’t want to), you prefer not to have your photo on our website or Facebook page, just let me know, send me a private message. Of if there is a particular photo you don’t feel comfortable with, I’ll be happy to take that down for you. Again, we’re here to help.

All that being said, we’ve been doing this for four years now, and we’ve been talking for two years about how has not made a dime since going live. We continue to pay for all costs out of pocket including our personal time to do updates daily and how we would like to change this eventually.

That’s going to happen soon. And it feels really f***ing weird that our purely goodwill effort is now going to be a commercial venture. But know this, we will never ever charge the venues, or the Artists be listed just like we’ve always done. But we are going to start offering banner ads (taxi services, out-of-town venues, hair salons, etc…), and we’re working on creating an online store for t-shirts and other items.

Ventura is such a great place to live, we have these incredible musicians and Artists who deserve support. We have a community and network of resources that encourage the music scene and we’re privileged to be a part of it all because like I always say, Ventura really does Rock!